Labor leader Bill Shorten has drawn unlikely inspiration from Margaret Thatcher, declaring he’s “not for turning” on his franking credit crackdown for retirees.
Just days after his Treasurer drew fire for urging seniors who didn’t like the policy to take their vote elsewhere, Mr Shorten has also muscled up on the controversial policy with the words first used by the conservative British PM.
“We’re not for turning,” Mr Shorten told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
“To put it directly: Do people want a government or do they want a piece of plasticine?
“Do people want a government with tax principles and fairness at their core or do they just want a lump of political putty?
“We have had six years of a plasticine government and we are putting our views out because we want Australia to be fairer and we want to operate in the interests of the millions of people who go to work every day; the pensioners.”
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher first uttered the same words in 1980, when she flatly rejected demands for a “U-turn” on her economic policies as unemployment peaked.
It was regarded as a defining speech of her prime ministership, which led to her being dubbed the “Iron Lady.”
“To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: you turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning,” Mrs Thatcher said.
— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) February 2, 2019
Mr Shorten said no other country in the OECD offered a similar franking credit scheme.
“Without everyone being bored to tears about the issue, in 1987, Paul Keating introduced the scheme, basic principle of tax equity, he said you shouldn’t pay tax twice,” Mr Shorten said.
“So a dividend that a person receives is taxed in the company, company tax, and then it used to be taxed as income tax. He removed the double taxation.
“But in 2001, John Howard and Peter Costello, when they had more money than they knew what to do with, abandoned tax principles. And now we have a crazy situation where a taxpayer gets a credit, sorry a non-taxpayer, get a cash tax refund. What principle of taxation says that a person who doesn’t pay tax can get a cash tax refund? Let’s open the textbooks – it doesn’t exist.
“There is no principle that says it is fair that a non-taxpayer gets a tax refund, a cash tax refund. But it is also not fair that we’re spending $100 million a week paying non-taxpayers cash tax refunds.”
Mr Shorten also accused the government of using the threat of a credit squeeze in the wake of the royal commission to go soft on the banks.
“I mean, really? Is Mr Morrison saying that the only way that we can have a solid banking sector is an unethical banking sector? I don’t buy that logic,” he said.
“But maybe that explains why the government voted 26 times against this banking royal commission, 26 times. And basically the big economic plan the government has had for the last six years for Australia is to give the banks a $17 billion tax cut.”
The final report of the royal commission will be released on Monday.